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Is there more to Kamal's meeting with Rahul?

June 21, 2018 17:54 IST

Even as the actor-turned-politician said that it was just ‘a courtesy call’, speculation about a future alliance between them has been doing the rounds in the national capital, says R Rajagopalan.

IMAGE: Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan meets Congress president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on June 21, 2018. Photograph: Kind courtesy @RahulGandhi/Twitter

Kamal Haasan, who was in New Delhi on Thursday to complete the registration formalities of his political outfit, Makkal Needhi Maiam, met Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi. 

Even as the actor-turned-politician said that it was just ‘a courtesy call’, speculation about a future alliance between them has been doing the rounds in the national capital. 

 

After the meeting, Rahul tweeted, ‘Enjoyed meeting @ikamalhaasan in Delhi today. We discussed a wide range of issues concerning our two parties, including the political situation in Tamil Nadu.’ 

Responding to Rahul’s tweet, Kamal tweeted, ‘Thank you @RahulGandhi Ji for the time and inputs. Hope our conversation was useful to you as well.’ 

Interestingly, when Rahul was discussing “the political situation in Tamil Nadu” with Haasan, his sister Priyanka Gandhi dropped in to join them in their talks. 

Meanwhile, the bonhomie between two leaders, which began at Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in ceremony in Bengaluru, has put the Congress’s ally in Tamil Nadu, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, in a fix. 

The Congress, which is cobbling together all non-Bharatiya Janata Party outfits, knows this is its best chance to regain lost ground in Tamil Nadu post-Jayalalithaa. 

The 2019 election in many ways will test the strength of regional parties in Tamil Nadu.

For it will be the first time the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam will contest a full-fledged election under Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam after their loss in the RK Nagar bypoll to sidelined AIADMK leader TTV Dinakaran. 

It will also be the first election where the DMK will contest entirely under its new leader, MK Stalin. 

And it will also be the first election in which the two southern superstars, Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth, will test their mettle. 

Considering all these, it looks like Tamil Nadu is likely to give a fractured mandate, unlike in 2014 when Jayalalithaa swept 37 out of the 39 Lok Sabha seats. 

Such a domineering performance by any of the parties in the fray in 2019 is clearly impossible. 

Interestingly, before meeting Haasan, Rahul also met another Tamil Nadu leader, Thol Thirumavalavan of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi. 

Rahul’s aim is to bag at least 20 seats from the southern state with small parties and the DMK. 

Rahul has been at loggerheads with the old guard from Tamil Nadu like P Chidambaram, K V Thangabalu and EVKS Elangovan in his push for fresh blood. 

So will the meeting of the three Gandhis with Kamal Haasan on Thursday bring about a swift change of approach vis-à-vis Tamil Nadu? 

That’s the question exercising the minds of Congress leaders from Tamil Nadu. 

R Rajagopalan is a senior journalist in New Delhi who has been reporting on Tamil Nadu affairs for decades. 

R Rajagopalan in New Delhi